Written by Theresa K. Brady, editorial intern
We all want to keep our furry friends happy and healthy. But did you know that 88 percent of dog owners think that nutrition for humans and dogs is similar while, in reality, it’s extremely different? PetMD teamed up with Hill’s Science Diet to create MyBowl for Dogs (the equivalent to MyPlate for humans) to display the proper pet diet. They briefed us about why Fido doesn’t get a seat at the dinner table.
Carbohydrates should make up about half of your dog’s meal. These are essential for keeping canines playful and active. You want to look for the words “whole grain” on the nutrition label. These will keep blood sugar levels steady and help your dog feel fuller longer.
- Good sources: Whole grain wheat, brown rice, whole corn, pearled barley and potatoes.
Protein will ideally fill 25 percent of your dog’s bowl. Fresh meats and meat meals provide nutrients for strong muscles and are essential for your pet’s growth, maintenance and energy. One to two sources of protein should be part of the first few listed ingredients on a dog food bag.
- Good sources: Chicken, lamb, pork, eggs and soybean meal.
Vitamins and Minerals aren’t just necessary for humans—dogs require them as well (and they're especially important for puppies). Think of them filling about 10 percent of the bowl. Fruits, veggies and plants provide essential vitamins that strengthen your dog’s immune system and create the proper balance for your pet’s good health.
- Good sources: Produce, mineral supplements.
Fats and Oils make up the remaining 15 percent of the dog bowl. These are required for vitamin absorption, providing energy and normal nervous system function. (And make food taste better!) The right balance of fats such as omega-6 and omega-3 help promote a healthy heart and skin, as well as that shiny coat. Some fatty acids also optimize brain function.
- Good sources: Soybean oil, pork fat and olive oil. (Avoid fats like beef tallow and lard.)
What about exercise? And is wet or dry food better? Keep reading to learn three important pet wellness lessons.
Dr. Chad Dodd, D.V.M. for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, gave us the scoop about helping your pet lead his or her healthiest life.
- Dogs should exercise about as much as humans. “Doctors tell people to exercise for about 30 minutes a day and the same goes for dogs,” Dodd says. He suggests jogging, playing Frisbee or swimming with your pup. “Although they are routine-based animals, they like variety,” he tells us. So don’t be afraid to switch up your workout! You’ll both reap the benefits.
- Wet or dry food—it’s your choice. “People like to give their pets options,” says Dodd. There really is no difference between wet and dry food. Some pet owners use wet food as a “treat” on top of dry food. “This is fine as long as you’re not feeding your dog too many calories,” warns Dodd; so make sure you’re using proper proportions.
- If you choose to make your own dog food, consult a vet. “It’s hard to know what you’re doing if you’re not sure how to guarantee that your pet gets all the nutrients they need,” says Dodd. “So talk with your vet about what foods to choose to ensure your pet gets a proper balanced diet.” If you’re still unsure about choosing food for your pup, Hill’s Pet Nutrition Ideal Balance dog food has the proper balance of nutrients to keep your dog healthy throughout it’s life.
Visit Pet MD’s Dog Nutrition Center to learn more about MyBowl and Ideal Balance dog food.